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"Life Comes From Life"
In his book, Darwin never referred to the origin of life. The primitive understanding of science in his time rested on the assumption that living beings had a very simple structure. Since medieval times,
spontaneous generation, which asserts that non-living materials came together to form living organisms, had been widely accepted. It was commonly believed that insects came into being from food leftovers, and mice from wheat. Interesting experiments were conducted to prove this theory. Some wheat was placed on a dirty piece of cloth, and it was believed that mice would originate from it after a while.
Similarly, maggots developing in rotting meat was assumed to be evidence of spontaneous generation. However, it was later understood that worms did not appear on meat spontaneously, but were carried there by flies in the form of larvae, invisible to the naked eye.
Even when Darwin wrote The Origin of Species, the belief that bacteria could come into existence from non-living matter was widely accepted in the world of science.
However, five years after the publication of Darwin's book, Louis Pasteur announced his results after long studies and experiments, that disproved spontaneous generation, a cornerstone of Darwin's theory.
In his triumphal lecture at the Sorbonne in 1864, Pasteur said: "Never will the doctrine of spontaneous generation recover from the mortal blow struck by this simple experiment." 140 For a long time, advocates of the theory of evolution resisted these findings. However, as the development of science unraveled the complex structure of the cell of a living being, the idea that life could come into being coincidentally faced an even greater impasse.
Inconclusive Efforts of theTwentieth Century
The first evolutionist who took up the subjectof the origin of life in the twentieth centurywas the renowned Russian biologistAlexander Oparin. With various theses headvanced in the 1930s, he tried to provethat a living cell could originate by coincidence. These studies, however, weredoomed to failure, and Oparin had tomake the following confession:
Unfortunately, however, the problemof the origin of the cell is perhaps themost obscure point in the whole studyof the evolution of organisms.141
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